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Diversity and Inclusion! What, Why, and How?

Introduction

Good day everyone! Our names are Thamira Seralathan and Naveena Avani Rajcumar and today we are going to discuss the topic of Diversity and Inclusion! (YAYY) First and foremost we’d like to mention that this blog is co-written. During our time at Illuminate and being a part of the 2021 summer cohort at the Illuminate Leadership Academy we’ve learned A LOT. Now if we were to go into detail of each and every aspect of our experience that would be a very long blog post and we don’t want to take much of your time.


What is Diversity

“What is Diversity?” Diversity is a very vague word on its own, but has a deep and important meaning, and aspect on both life in a company, workplace, general stores, life in general, and more. The definition of diversity is “the state of being diverse; variety.” but normally when one hears the word “diversity” they would automatically jump into thinking about culture, race, gender, etc. There are four types of diversity; internal, external, organizational, and worldview. However, the term “diversity” can branch off into many different meanings within these four types. It could mean the variety of knowledge. For example, a company could specialize in technology but would need a variety of people with different knowledge and skill sets. The more people they get with different soft and hard skills, the more diverse the company is, as they will not have many of the same kind of people. Diversity could also tie into personality. Every individual person has their own personality; they could be outgoing, humorous, introverted, and much more. Once again the more of the difference in persons between people in the company creates diversity. All in all a company, no matter how small or big, should aim for all four types of diversity to create a healthy environment, welcoming for all employees, customers, persons, etc.


Why is Diversity important

As said before Diversity is an important aspect of our society. Diversity helps in the understanding of other cultures, other peoples, other biases and more. Diversity helps rule out any negative stereotypes that may be lingering around. Similar to diversity in society, diversity in the workplace is also essential. Each employee of a company is an asset. What they have to bring to the table provides value to the company; the employees' culture, skills set, knowledge, experience and anything else that sets them apart from others provides value. Here is an example to justify why diversity is important: you could have 11 people working at a cashier in a grocery store. Ten people are all from the same culture, same school, and have similar experiences. That one person who is different from the rest, went to a different school, studied differently, is from a different culture, and has different experiences from the rest. That person who is different would have more to contribute as they will have different ideas. The more people the company gets, who are different from the rest, creates diversity which would help the business prosper. Had they continue hiring people who are alike, they would continue with a stream of ideas from one perspective, and not consider the view of contrasting people who would be potential customers; without diversity they would lose more profit and company value.





Diversity is not only important to provide physical aspects in the company, or in life. Diversity also provides a feeling. Diversity in a company makes it feel more welcoming to potential customers, or potential employees. It would also make the company feel more inclusive, as people would see that your workplace consists of contrasting people, and that there is no negative air between them given that they are different. Diversity would also help prevent any problems between employees that could occur. For example, if your company consists of mainly one type of peoples and there are only a little to a few employees who are different compared to the rest, any problem that may happen between them could make one or the other feel like it occurred due to the differences, but having a variety of people would reduce the risk of that happening as people would be more comfortable and recognize that the workplace consists of many different people and that they are not alone.


What is Inclusion?

Inclusion is different from diversity because diversity tends to focus on the “what” whereas inclusion focuses on the “now”. Inclusion is when everyone in the workplace is treated fairly, respectfully, and has the same resources regardless of one's seniority ranking, gender, ethnicity, belief, etc. Every individual should be treated the same without feeling decriminalized. Inclusion is when everyone has the opportunity to grow and learn in all the work experiences they come across and be able to gain their best potential.


Why is inclusion important?

When a workplace considers and takes into high accounts of diversity and inclusion its bound that the employees are to feel happier and have a better sense of belonging in their workplace. This will also ensure that the employees will have a higher productivity rate and gain loyalty for the company. Aside from work, inclusion will help employees get along outside the work environment, which comes back to play in good hands for the company. Having employees who have healthy relationships with each other creates an environment which would also please customers and potential employees. The reason we say that it will please potential employees is because, no one would want to work for a company whose employees have bad blood between each other. When you include everyone into the company equally, there is a feeling of belonging, and does not give the sense that anyone is higher than the other due to seniority, as that should not factor healthy relationships within the company. Having everyone included equally would also give a feeling of importance. It is like when you are doing a group project with people in class, when you have an equal chance to contribute you feel good about it and are encouraged to do more, by that feeling. It is basically human nature. When you feel like you are below someone because you are not being treated as well as they are, you do not want to do work, as you would think, “if that person is so good why don't they do the work” but when you are being recognized equally, you would want to do an equal share.


There are 6 key principles of inclusivity which were written by the University of Waterloo:

The Principles of Inclusivity

  1. Acknowledge individuals have unique and particular needs in the learning and work environment.

  2. Respect each individual’s right to express and present themselves relative to their religion, culture, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender-identity, physical and mental ability.

  3. Promote inclusivity by reasonably adjusting procedures, activities and physical environments.

  4. Focus on the capability of the individual without assumptions or labels.

  5. Be inclusive in all forms of communication.

  6. Serve all with sensitivity, respect, and fairness.


https://uwaterloo.ca/organizational-human-development/learning-development-programs/inclusivity-series/principles-inclusivity


 

How will we incorporate Diversity and Inclusion into our conference?


Our conference will be based upon the topic of “PURPLE PEOPLE'' (HOORAYYYY), now you might wonder “what even is a Purple Person'' well, a Purple Person is someone who is adaptability to all the situations they may come across and learn to do the best job they can possible without giving up. These are the people of the future. A People Person has both skills and aspects of a business person and a technology person. Now we’re going to leave the information of Purple People here, if you would like to learn more, then look out to join our conference, coming soon. Illuminate x Scarborough- The Purple People.



We believe that Purple People don’t strictly have to be based upon business or technology subjects because you can make those transactions on a daily basis. We believe that the topic of Purple People is very vague, and seems to be directed towards people specifically in the business and/or technology field. Although it is understandable since it's expected to play a big role in the future, we believe that people with different interests in career fields such as science, engineering, architecture, etc, could all be Purple People as well. As said before, diversity in a company is a main aspect, therefore people of all career/study field interests are welcomed and their field will be recognized when we explain what People People are. Throughout our conference we want to make this shown and allow people to grow themselves to become adaptable and get ready for the future. The workshops will be as interactional and engaging as possible, although each session of our conference will be on a timed schedule, a few students who wish to share their answers during interactional activities may do so. The attendees will also play a part to introduce inclusion and diversity into our conference given that each one of them will be different from another, as the saying goes ”No two snowflakes are alike.” Therefore no two people are alike. With our case study attendees will be able to display their skills and capabilities, and they are to take responsibility into including all members of the group in the work. We will be advertising our conference on multiple social media platforms and the Illuminate universe website so everyone is welcome to join!